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Europa League Win Over Manchester United Was 'Revenge' Against Sir Alex Ferguson, Says Francis Coquelin

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

Europa League Win Over Manchester United Was 'Revenge' Against Sir Alex Ferguson, Says Francis Coquelin

Francis Coquelin says he enjoyed "a bit of revenge" over Sir Alex Ferguson when his Villarreal side beat Manchester United in last season's Europa League final.

The 30-year-old midfielder, who made 160 appearances for Arsenal during a 10 year spell in North London, helped the Yellow Submarine to their first European trophy in May following a dramatic penalty shoot-out that finished 11-10.

Coquelin himself struck arguably the best of those penalties when he knocked one into the top corner, despite co-commentator Robbie Savage's prediction that he would miss.

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Since the La Liga side triumphed in Gdansk, Coquelin has revealed that comments made in Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography gave him extra motivation that night.

Ferguson, who was sitting in the stands for the Europa League final, would write the following in his autobiography: “Arsenal played a young boy in midfield; Francis Coquelin. He was completely out of his depth. I had hardly heard of him, and he barely played again."

The former United manager was speaking about the time his United side thumped Arsenal side 8-2 in 2011 – a game for which the 20-year-old midfielder Coquelin was rushed into Arsene Wenger's first-team.

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Coquelin, who was speaking ahead of Villarreal's Champions League semi-final clash against Liverpool, said lifting the Europa League trophy in front of Ferguson was "nice" following those comments.

“It was a bit of revenge, because when I made my Arsenal debut we lost 8-2 at Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson criticised me a bit in his biography, so it was a nice little turnaround to win the Europa League against them,” Coquelin told RMC Sport.

“Plus I think he was in the stands as well, so lifting the trophy in front of him was nice. I was looking for him, he must have seen me.”

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

The former Arsenal midfielder says Villarreal come into tomorrow night's semi-final clash against the "best team in Europe" with confidence after knocking out Bayern Munich and Juventus.

“Liverpool are probably the team that press best," he told The Guardian. "I can’t really see where their weaknesses are. They attack so well and now they have [Ibrahima] Konate competing with [Joel] Matip. The left-back and the right-back are like strikers basically.

"They have two players who fight for Ballon d’Or, [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane. Now they’ve signed Luis Diaz and he settles in like he has been there five years. They’re the best team in Europe but, as a footballer, what do you want? To play this sort of game, travel around Europe.

"We have a dream in the back of our heads to play a Champions League final. We know it’s tough but the whole team, the whole town, is excited. It’s difficult but we’ve got confidence: we knocked out Bayern Munich and Juventus and we’re going there to compete. We’re not going there just to look at Anfield."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Villarreal, Europa League, Sir Alex Ferguson, Champions League

Jack Kenmare
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